If you or someone you love is considering recovery from addiction, you should know that recovery is not easy! It is challenging. Mind you, do not try a cold turkey detox! With larger chances of quitting cold turkey, you may then never make up your mind for recovery ever in your life!

Outpatient Vs IOP Treatment

Addiction Recovery Methods and the Available Choices

While detox is the first step to recovery, it is most often advised to choose inpatient detox. The next step is rehab. For a rehab, should you or your loved one choose Residential Treatment Program Or Non-Residential Treatment Program?

Several addiction rehab centers advise you to choose either residential or non-residential treatment program. If enrolling for a Residential Treatment Program which provides 24/7 medical intervention is a hurdle for you due to work or financial reasons, there are good number of outpatient treatment programs for drugs/alcohol related recovery.

Here again, should you or your loved one choose outpatient treatment programs or Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)? Let us understand the difference between the two:


Outpatient Treatment program is a non-residential recovery program. Here, the patient visits the treatment center two to four times a week for counselling sessions or for continued education or for a course on relapse prevention and other related interventions. Each session typically lasts from two to four hours. 

On the flip side, in an Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP), patients will undergo the same counselling sessions, relapse prevention course, continued education and other such interventions similar to inpatient treatment in a fairly rigorous manner, for more number of days in a week and for longer duration. One of the vital treatment-techniques in IOP is one-to-one therapy sessions. Talk therapy, music therapy, art therapy, dance therapy, cognitive-behavioral-dialectical therapy, and others are adopted as effective strategies to fight the addictive behaviour, or drug/alcohol related cravings or desire to quit recovery.

What is common between Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP):

  • They also do not stay and eat on campus.
  • They can go about with their daily chores, take up a job or go to college during the detox-program.
  • They visit the center for counselling sessions, therapies and other interventions.

What is the difference between Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP):

Utility of Time: Outpatient treatment requires you to be there for two to four times a week for two to three hours in a day. But, IOP demands more than 12 hours of attendance at the detox facility every week.

Severity of Addiction: Outpatient treatment undertakes lesser monitoring in comparison to IOP. This is suitable for individuals whose level of addiction is mild to moderate. IOP is for people with severe degree of alcohol/drug addiction. It can be ideally a bridge between inpatient detox treatment and outpatient treatment programs.

When analyzed in a hierarchy, Intensive Outpatient Program treatment is considered as a step-down from Inpatient drug/alcohol addiction treatment. A step-down can be described as a lower level of treatment in intensity based on the severity of drug/alcohol addiction. Similarly, Outpatient drug/alcohol addiction treatment is considered as two steps lower than Inpatient drug/alcohol addiction treatment and one step lower than IOP treatment.

Let’s make this easier for you and lay out the order of hierarchy for a drug addiction treatment/ alcohol addiction treatment program:

1.    Inpatient drug/alcohol addiction treatment

a.    Inpatient Detox

b.    Inpatient Rehab

2.    Intensive Outpatient Treatment

3.    Outpatient drug/alcohol addiction treatment

4.    Aftercare program

Please remember, every addict need not go through each of the above mentioned stages. Your severity, duration of addiction becomes a deciding factor for the process. General Outpatient Treatment program is for addicts whose level of addiction is moderate or minor and whose chances of relapse is minimal when exposed to their regular environment. An IOP treatment is chosen to decrease the chances of relapse for severe addicts. This is achieved through constant monitoring, frequent and longer duration of visits to the center, extensive therapies and counselling sessions and the like.

Choose an Addiction Treatment Center

Wait no more! Choose to recover. Contact an addiction treatment center near you! Consult the skilled recovery specialists.  Choose the most appropriate drug addiction treatment/alcohol addiction treatment program for you or your loved ones.